Kavi Chongkittavorn and President Rodrigo Duterte, photo compiled from Google
Kavi Chongkittavorn, a veteran journalist on regional affairs for the Bangkok post commended President Rodrigo Duterte's role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit held this week in Manila, and said that he has shifted power politics like no leader before him.

He said that Duterte, the current chairman of the ASEAN, has put his country on par with major powers.



"He put Asean on the map on par with the superpowers during the past 429 days to be exact, from Sept 8, 2016 to today. He will pass the baton to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday."

Chongkittavorn said that Duterte has shifted power politics in the region as no ASEAN leader has done before.

"He did not follow any rules and remained unpredictable throughout his Asean chairmanship. Despite the verdict on the South China Sea conflict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in favour of the Philippines, Mr Duterte decided to play the outcome the way he wanted to -- by befriending China to the bewilderment of his country, allies and friends."

He said that Duterte'sactions let him take the bull by the horns and turn it into his advantage.

Chongkittavorn, who also writes for the Manila Times, said that it is clear that Duterte has no desire to invite the United States back to the "great power's game".



He said that when US President Donald Trump offered to mediate the South China Sea conflict in Hanoi over the weekend before his arrival in Manila, both Vietnam and the Philippines knew the grave dangerTrump's style of deal-making would bring.

"The dramatic improvement of Philippine-China ties also has rendered positive impacts on overall Asean-China cooperation over the ongoing negotiations on the code of conduct in the South China Sea. Even though China has rejected the PCA's decision, it would continue to serve as an invisible barometer regarding China's behaviour in regional and international politics."

He also commended Duterte's flexibility, by putting his personal grudge against the European Union's severe criticism of his drug war, and was able to issue a EU President Donald Tusk to attend the East Asia Summit (EAS).

The foreign writer added that is a change after the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

"After six years of hard-line policy during the former Aquino administration, China is now feeling more comfortable about responding to Asean collectively in positive ways without the much-feared perception that it is doing so due to pressure from Washington. Chaired by the Philippines, Asean centrality has been strengthened simply because Mr Duterte decided to opt for cooperation rather than confrontation. "

He added  that the ASEAN has been eventful, "Filipino-style", and that the Philippines has proved once again the grouping's character and demeanor is still very much hinged on the confidence and intuition of whoever holds the chair.

Source: m.bangkokpost.com


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Thai veteran journo: Duterte put PH on par with major powers like never before Thai veteran journo: Duterte put PH on par with major powers like never before Reviewed by FN Correspondent on 11:38 PM Rating: 5

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